Tony Adams is a legendary defender of the Premier League era.
He spent his entire career marshalling Arsenal’s defence and captained the team for 14 years. At Arsenal Adams won four top flight (Division One/Premier League) titles, three FA Cups, two League Cups and the UEFA Cup Winner’s Cup.
He also made 66 appearances for England and was the last Englishman to score at the old Wembley stadium in a 2-0 win over Ukraine.
The famous back four
Adams made his debut for Arsenal aged just 17 in 1983. By the time he was 21, Adams was made the club captain and along with Lee Dixon, Nigel Winterburn and Steve Bould, Arsenal’s famous back four was formed.
The defence has gone down in Arsenal legend for their stubborn resistance to attacking teams and the pride they took in keeping a clean sheet.
The four played together for Arsenal for over ten years and mastered the off side trap, famously stepping up as one
with their arms raised catching unwitting forwards offside time after time.
George Graham was the Arsenal manager during the late eighties and early nineties and his team got the reputation of being boring to watch. Such was the quality of their defence, Arsenal usually only had to score one goal to win a game and often ran out 1-0 winners causing opposing fans to tag them “boring, boring Arsenal.”
Winning the title with the last kick of the game
Adams won the League Cup with Arsenal in 1987 but had to wait until 1989 before winning the league title.
It was done in the most dramatic fashion as Arsenal’s last game of the season was at the home of the league leaders Liverpool. The two clubs had been fighting over top spot for the entire season but it would all come down to the result of this game.
Arsenal went into the game trailing Liverpool by three points with a goal difference inferior to that of Liverpool’s by four goals. They had however, scored more goals than Liverpool so if they did win by two clear goals they would draw level on points and goal difference but go above their rivals on goals scored and so finish top of the league.
Arsenal were overwhelming underdogs given that Liverpool had not lost at home by two goals in over three years and were on for a League and Cup double after beating Everton a week earlier in the FA Cup Final.
However, Adams led Arsenal to the most unlikely of victories as they went ahead and won the game 2-0 with goals from Alan Smith with the second scored by Michael Thomas coming in the last minute.
It was a truly thrilling end to the game with the title being won with the last kick of the game. Undoubtedly it was the most exciting climax to a season in English football history.
Domestic Cup Double
Arsenal won another league title in 1991 and under Adams’s captaincy they remained one of the best teams in the country. The quality of the Arsenal team was underlined further in 1993 when they won both the League Cup and FA Cup.
Oddly, in both finals they played against Sheffield Wednesday but were the better team on both occasions. They won the League Cup 2-1 but were forced to a replay in the FA Cup which was settled in the final minute of extra time by Andy Linighan in a 2-1 victory.
The following season Adams added the UEFA Cup Winners Cup to his collection of winners medals with a victory over Parma in the final in Copenhagen.
Handed the England captaincy
Tony Adams played for England for over 10 years and was picked for his country by five different managers. His finest hour in an England shirt was during the tournament of Euro 96.
Adams was made captain by Terry Venables and played a key role for England. He played every minute of their campaign which ended in heartache after defeat on penalties to Germany in the semi finals.
After Venables vacated the England manager’s job, Adams lost the captaincy to Alan Shearer but remained a key part of the team playing in every game of the finals of the World Cup in France 98 and also appearing in the Euro’s in 2000. Adams key to Wenger’s new Arsenal – Read more